Catacombs of Rome  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, or underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, they include pagan and Jewish burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together. They began in the 2nd century,Template:Citation needed as much as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land as they were to satisfy the need for persecuted Christians to bury their dead secretly. The soft volcanic tufo rock under Rome is highly suitable for tunnelling, as it is softer when first exposed to air, hardening afterwards. Many have kilometres of tunnels, in up to four stories (or layers).

The Christian catacombs are extremely important for the art history of early Christian art, as they contain the great majority of examples from before about 400 AD, in fresco and sculpture. The Jewish catacombs are similarly important for the study of Jewish art at this period.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Catacombs of Rome" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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